Poverty program must embrace migrants

At a seminar held in Ho Chi Minh City on August 3, participants were of the view that the government’s poverty elimination program in the countries two biggest cities, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, must also include the interests of migrant workers.

Migrant street vendors must be embraced in the Government poverty elimination program (Photo:D. Thuy)

Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have taken bold initiatives to implement the poverty elimination program by identifying the poor and impoverished households as well as migrant workers.

An Urban Poverty Survey (UPS-09) of both the cities has been prepared by the People’s committees of the two cities under a fund from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

The UPS-09 was specifically designed to address the issues of poverty in Hanoi and HCMC, focusing on collecting data on migrants, unregistered households and the registered population.

Special emphasis has been placed on the characteristics of urban poverty, types of employment and income, ownership of durable goods and the ability of people to solve day-to-day problems. 

UPS-09 was conducted in October-November 2009 in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi.  The census done in 2009 showed the population of Hanoi at 3.6 million and of HCMC at 7.1 million. A total of 3,349 households and individuals in both the cities were surveyed for the report.

As per UPS-09, there are disparities in income and social status between households and individuals that have registration permits to live in the city, and those living in the city without permits and referred to as “migrants”.

UPS-09 showed that unregistered migrants are usually manual workers, as migrants are in general of lower income and poor education strata.

The literacy rate in both men and women is more or less equal.  The ratio of migrants to local residents in public schools is by far less and migrants have less exemption of school fees than local registered residents.

Migrants earn less than registered residents even though they work 10 hours more per week. They spend less on education and medical services but a lot more on lodging.

The survey shows Hanoi in a better position than Ho Chi Minh City in terms of literacy rates, education and professional achievements.

According to the survey, migrants rarely participate in socio-political activities such as youth or trade unions, associations for women or social clubs, showing their hesitancy in merging with society.

Nguyen Thang, director of the Analysis and Forecasting Centre under the Vietnamese Academy of Social Sciences, says that a strategy needs to be implemented to promote sustainable urbanization encompassing migrants. In addition, Thang thinks that the government should force informal domestic and individual enterprises to register legally so as to provide migrant workers with health insurance to help in improving their status.

By Duong Loan - Translated by Dan Thuy

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